Desert icons

Truth be told, I have not been a very good tourist since arriving in Dubai. But let’s be honest – only mad people and labourers actually walk anywhere in this place, or go sightseeing in this heat. It’s 35’C by 10 am, and much hotter by mid-afternoon, so people hide inside. Since we currently do not have a car, the only sane way to get around is by taxi and metro, so walking around for hours and gazing at the various attractions is out of the question.

There is, however, one famous building that I seem to pass every single day, and I’m always amazed by how pretty it is — the Burj Al Arab. I snapped this picture of the icon of the Emirates while zooming along in the lovely Dubai Metro. It got me thinking that all world class cities have defining buildings — in Hong Kong it’s the Bank of China, in Tokyo it’s the ‘Golden Turd’, in New York it’s the Empire State Building. But what’s nice about the Burj Al Arab is that it rises out of nothing — no mountains, no surrounding skyscrapers vying for attention. It just stands there in all its seven-star grandness on the waterfront. And it’s shiny white exterior is a nice contrast from the desert sand.


Note the luxury cars abandoned in the desert and covered in dust and sand!

Dubai is bisected by Sheik Zayed Road, a massive sixteen-lane highway (eight lanes in each direction!) that runs through the city, acting as a sturdy transportation backbone. All along the highway, on both sides, insanely creative and weird mega-towers are going up all over the place. Towers that twist and turn and do all kinds of madness. Dubai for sure is an architect’s dream… it’s like they have been given free license to be as creative and outlandish as they like. After all, Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, rising a kilometre into the sky! Quite amazing. But, I have a feeling the Burj Al Arab will always be one that stands out from the rest…

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